Low-Tech to No-Tech is The Way

Being a public figure in the preparedness world, I get swamped with people asking me for my recommendations on the latest and coolest cool-guy Ultra-Tacticool gear. Which night vision should I buy, what’s the best range finder, and what rifle accessories do I need top the list.

While I give the best answers I can (and I’ll try to here), I always wonder if they’ve even read my first book, the Baseline Training Manual, where I spell out my philosophy on this. My philosophy is to go with no or low-tech options, every time. Technology is a point of failure. You’ll need batteries or repairs, so the answer is to learn to do without. You don’t need the $375 ultra-light backpacking tent; you need a tarp and some para-cord.

This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Jeremiah 6:16

H John Poole, a fantastic author whose works I’m reading now (I’ve gotten 3 done so far) and whose training I’ve incorporated into Fieldcraft and Scouting & Patrolling (a lot of USMC training came from Poole), likes to discuss why Eastern soldiers have fared so well against the US, British, and French and will continue to do so. The reason is that they aren’t so reliant on technology, and thus they have superior field skills.

The Viet Cong had no tanks, no air, and usually nothing heavier than the RPG-7 or PK Machine gun, but they were outstanding fighters in the field. We, on the other hand, through no fault of our fighting men on the ground, felt that we could pull back and pound them with artillery or air assets. They went underground and outlasted our high-tech assets. The Japanese did the same – Iwo Jima had MILES of interconnected underground tunnels that enabled them to survive a massive, but wasted, preparatory bombardment.

What does this mean for us? Well, first, stop pretending and accept reality. Your role is survival and protection of your family. No matter how much money you spend, you aren’t going to be infiltrating an enemy base (whomever that enemy may be) with your commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) night vision. What you WILL do is send a beacon to the opposing force with their superior night vision that someone is bumbling around in the dark with an IR illuminator lit up for all to see.

Sure, I could tell you that the best value in entry-level night optics is SiOnyx, but in all reality, you can get UNDETECTABLE results by learning how to properly buy binoculars. Binocular strength is expressed as something like “8×32”, where the first number is the magnification, and the second number is the objective lens size in millimeters. The larger the OBJECTIVE lens, the more light it will gather in the dark, giving you better night vision without projecting an IR beacon. I know, someone will say “but you need SOME light for that to work”. Yes, exactly the same principle as your passive night vision. In total dark, you need to turn on your IR illuminator, giving away your position. Find yourself a good set of 8-15×50 binoculars. Yes, they’re bigger, but worth it.

Before Clay Martin comes to burn my house down for heresy, I’m not saying don’t buy night vision, I’m saying don’t over-rely on it and understand the risk. Learn to mitigate your risk and develop no tech skills as well.

The same goes for your fighting rifle. There are a lot of great accessories and optic options available and many of them are good to have. However, if you’ve never zeroed your iron sights and your optic gets damaged or the battery dies, what are you going to do? A lot of people talk about properly co-witnessing and such, but that doesn’t work on all platforms. You can’t do that on an AK for example. You need zeroed iron sights, so put in the work and do it.

The same goes for a bayonet lug. Call me a boomer or a Fudd if you wish, but any fighting rifle you have should have a bayonet and bayonet lug. There are many times that they can come in handy. Imagine moving through urban terrain, and someone jumps out to grab the rifle…losing three fingers in the process is quite a demotivator. Also, if you hog hunt a bayonet can be mighty handy when the hogs decide to hunt you.

Another consideration with rifle accessories is weight. I know a lot of guys who have all kinds of lights, bipods, front grips, optics and magnifiers, etc. Those things make you look cool at the range and are great on the range, but on mile 4 of a patrol, you’ll be tossing them beside the trail. Strike a balance.

Some guys want to use laser range finders, and they are a great tool, but isn’t it better to learn to how to properly estimate range? Anything electronic can fail, and since it emits a laser, it can be detected by sophisticated forces. My Vortex monocular (above) has man-shaped outlines at 4 different ranges (300-600 meters) on it. To estimate range, simply put a human inside the shape that they fit in. Easy, and no electronic signature.

The final point about low to no tech is that you HAVE TO get out and train on things like land navigation, shelter building, and estimating range. You can’t do that in an hour at your local range. You need to invest some time in training on the things you will be doing far more than shooting stationary targets. Get out in the field. Dig an observation post. Sleep in a fighting hole you dug. Get in the dirt and low crawl. Train firing from prone (I know, novel concept, right?).

I know guys who will spend hours practicing magazine changes without firing a shot but would never consider training their body to transition from standing to prone, standing to seated, or kneeling to prone/standing. These things are every bit as important, just not as flashy or cool. In the USMC, you spend an entire week doing this without firing a single shot.

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Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

16 thoughts on “Low-Tech to No-Tech is The Way

  1. Iron sights 4 sure. Most of the conflicts you may face will be close quarters. Definitely under 100 yards. Center mass not center button! I’m a shotgun guy Joe. Any bayonet mounts you recommend? Oh BTW, I shot a doe through the heart prone at 80 yards with a smooth bore 12 gauge w a glow bead. Know your weapon. Find the best ammo it shoots, stick with it and the gun will put it there every time. If you miss it’s on you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t disagree, but until there is a FINANCIALLY VIABLE alternative, I’m not trusting my families livelihood to it. You can donate via stripe on Locals.


  2. As always, this guy is SPOT ON. I have very much enjoyed Joe’s books. His books are SPOT ON and I’m incorporating some of his information, with his permission and credit to him, of course, into my new edition of the Civil Defense Manual volume III.

    Low tech is the way… I know… I fought in a war where low tech, relentless training and nerve overcame the enemy. Nike track shoes, no socks, khaki shorts, no shirt, webbing, canteen, mags, grenades and SAR1 FN. Camo cream, no hat and hair down to our shoulders… off the helicopter or out the door as a para, into the shytte. The most tech we had was VHF radios.

    The Rhodies spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting RLI and SAS the first “Red Dot” type sights manufactured in Europe. We dumped the sights back in the armory.

    These didn’t improve our kill rate. 1690 commie scumbags in 9 months at the end. We beat them, that according to their general… he admitted we had defeated them and they could last only another 6 months. They were saved by Carter and commie bonehead Young. Read the Marine Corps study on “Fire Force.”

    You reluctantly got to like Commando Sergeant Major Payne’s “Jungle Lane training until you puked” …then the real life contacts so you didn’t puke. Sometimes parachuted twice a day in never ending contacts.

    Iron sights, double tap and constant jungle lanes, an RLI relentless training tool where ever we camped just like the Roman Legions, with special techniques to show you how to survive. This worked above and beyond everything else when real action time came.

    A Sergeant shooting an AKM at you who you prayed liked you. Concussion grenades and random weapon failures. This kept you alive. Read my CO Henson’s book “Soup to Nuts.” The Rhodies were some of the bravest and finest people I have ever had the honor to serve with.

    Joe Dolio is one cool dude… great author… man of God… the real deal.

    Just wish we all had an alternative to those commie boneheads operating as PayPal. I dumped my PayPal account too.

    Gab is coming out with a debit card. I’m way behind on donations to this Patriot and Man of Christ.

    It’s coming, Joe!

    Jack Lawson
    Associate Member, Sully H. deFontaine Special Forces Association Chapter 51, Las Vegas, Nevada
    Author of the “Civil Defense Manual,” “The Slaver’s Wheel,” “A Failure of Civility,” “And We Hide From The Devil” and “In Defense.”

    “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. Those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain.” – Rutger Hauer in his “Time to die” scene from the movie “Blade Runner”

    In my memories are the above in a figurative sense… the below in the literal reality of my past…

    “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. The moonlit landscape of Zambia I parachuted into at two o’clock in the morning with 40 pounds of explosives in my drop pack on an “external,” a raid on a Communist Terrorist camp. I’ve watched a frightened, but still majestic and graceful family of giraffes gallop the African bush as I hung out the door of a helicopter flying by them at treetop level, almost close enough to touch them. I’ve battled it out with Communist terrorists mano a mano while neck deep in crocodile infested idle waters on the banks and sandbars of the Honde and Limpopo Rivers in Mozambique”

    From Jack Lawson… an American in 1RLI Support Commando and attached to Rhodesian “C Squadron” SAS Africa 1977-79

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve always enjoyed the Roy Batty/Rutger Hauer quote from Blade Runner and shared its lamentation; that everything amazing that I’ve witnessed and experienced will be gone someday too. But it’s lament is one of a non-devine secular concerned only with this world as the ending. Tens of billions of souls have lived and their memories are all (or will be) lost too. I could as easily quote the end of Buckaroo Bonzai: “So what. Big deal.” Approaching the run-up to the end of each of us (whenever that is), enjoin CS Lewis who embraces an ancient path:

    “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m VN era, have said it 100x, most of this new gear wouldn’t last 1 week on Iwo or the jungles of VN, it’s too delicate and will not survive tough conditions. We have not seen tough conditions yet, brag all you want about all that high tech stuff today and see how far it gets you when the systems and power crash, when the weather infiltrates everything you carry. (fyi, I have a lot of money tied up in ultralight backpacking gear, it’s great, but not for extreme tough work) I learned my lesson with binos and trying to keep a PRC-25/KY-38 running 50 yrs ago in the wet jungles of Oki and P.I, along with amphib ops as a Recon Marine. Murphy will beat you every time.
    Everyone wants the easy way out, carrying their cell phone to do everything for them from comms to map reading and flashlight even. It’s also your death ray machine, it will get you killed. Same goes for your new vehicles. I broke my phone a year ago, and decided not to replace it, haven’t missed it for even an hour so far. I’m a master with a map and compass and spent decades running the Rocky Mtn’s on foot and horseback, don’t need a phone to find my way, or direct them to me.
    As the others have mentioned and will never stop beating you with it, the light infantry guerrilla will prevail, overburdening yourself with all the trick new shit from the SHOT show is a good way to end up broke and exhausted. Basic gear and light loads, i.,e. Keep It Simple Stupid= KISS.
    Anyone telling you otherwise is probably one of those tactijunk salesmen, or hasn’t ever pushed it to the outer limits..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am semi old school, learned map reading and compass before GPS, and cell phones. I proudly qualify as a REMF, but have deployed into combat theaters.
    I believe in low tech, as it is much more durable, less maintenance intensive than the new fangled wonder widgets.
    The use of a pair of 7X50 binoculars as low light vision is an example of this approach, even better would be a pair of 5×50 if I could find them.
    I heard it called the “twilight factor” divide the power into the objective lens size to obtain the light gathering factor. 7X50 would give a factor of 7, but a 5X50 would be closer to 10. This is assuming same coating types, and other factors.
    I also prefer a poncho to the gortex, as it is useful for more than a windbreaker.
    Thank you for your time wasted reading my ramble.

    Liked by 1 person

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